US8600364B2 - Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices - Google Patents

Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices Download PDF

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Publication number
US8600364B2
US8600364B2 US13334849 US201113334849A US8600364B2 US 8600364 B2 US8600364 B2 US 8600364B2 US 13334849 US13334849 US 13334849 US 201113334849 A US201113334849 A US 201113334849A US 8600364 B2 US8600364 B2 US 8600364B2
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mobile telephony
telephony device
native
mobile
service provider
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US20130165089A1 (en )
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Guy Fighel
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Vonage America Inc
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Vonage Network LLC
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W64/00Locating users or terminals or network equipment for network management purposes, e.g. mobility management
    • H04W64/003Locating users or terminals or network equipment for network management purposes, e.g. mobility management locating network equipment
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/16Communication-related supplementary services, e.g. call-transfer or call-hold

Abstract

Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device that is roaming outside of its native service area make use of a mobile roaming termination service. The mobile roaming termination service causes the native mobile telephony service provider that provides service to the mobile telephony device to forward incoming telephony communications directed the native telephone number of the mobile telephony device to a forwarding access number. The mobile roaming termination service receives telephony communications directed to the forwarding access number, and then terminates the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via any one of multiple different methods.

Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention is related to systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device. More specifically, the invention relates to systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device that is roaming out of its native service area.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Mobile telephony devices, such as cellular telephones and mobile computing devices with cellular telephony capabilities, are typically provided with service from a cellular service provider. The cellular service provider typically only provides service to its customers within a defined geographical area, often only within a single country. The area served by the provider is considered the “native” service area for customers who receive cellular telephone service from the provider.

If a customer who receives cellular telephone service from a first “native” cellular service provider travels to an area outside his native service area, the customer's cellular telephone may be capable of receiving cellular service from a second “non-native” cellular service provider that provides coverage in that location. However, because the non-native cellular service provider is not the customer's regular service provider, the customer will be charged special “roaming” fees for receiving incoming communications and for sending outgoing communications from that location. Typically, the non-native cellular service provider charges the user's native cellular service provider for providing service to the customer's cellular telephone, and the native cellular service provider then passes those charges along to the customer as part of his regular monthly bill. This is true for telephone calls, text messages, and other forms of telephony communications.

Roaming charges can be exorbitant compared to fees charged for telephony communications within the customer's native service area. International roaming charges are particularly expensive, as the rates negotiated between carriers for overseas call termination has been at a premium.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a system level representation of elements that interact with each other to terminate telephony communications to mobile telephony devices;

FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a controller that may be used to practice one or more embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating elements of a mobile roaming connection unit embodying the invention;

FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating steps of a method embodying the invention for registering a mobile telephony device with a mobile roaming termination service;

FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating steps of a method embodying the inventor for implementing call forwarding instructions as part of a method of terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices;

FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating steps of a method embodying the inventor for triggering the implementation of call forwarding instructions as part of a method of terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices;

FIG. 7 is a diagram illustrating steps of a method embodying the inventor for terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device; and

FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating steps of another method embodying the inventor for terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following description, references are made to a user's or a customer's mobile telephony device. This term encompass traditional cellular telephones, as well as mobile telephony devices that include additional functionality, such as the ability to wirelessly communicate digital data. These terms also encompass mobile computing devices that include communications capabilities provided by either or both of a cellular transceiver and a wireless digital data transceiver. Examples of such devices include the Apple iPhone™, mobile telephony devices running the Android™ operating system, the Blackberry™ and mobile telephones running the Symbian operating system.

The following description also refers to terminating a telephony communication. This phrase refers to completing an incoming telephony communication, such as a voice or video telephone call, to a telephony device. This phrase also encompasses delivering text messages and other forms of text-based or video-based messaging to a telephony device. This phrase also encompasses other forms of communications that may be carried over a telephony network.

The term “call” or “telephone call” is used in the following description for ease of reference, clarity and brevity. However, all of the systems and methods described below which involve handling, routing and terminating calls would also apply to systems and methods of handling, routing and terminating other forms of telephony-based communications. Thus, the terms call and telephone call are intended to include other forms of telephony-based communications.

The invention provides a method, system and apparatus for terminating a telephony communication to a mobile telephony device that is roaming in such a way that roaming charges preferably are not incurred. To accomplish this, the telephony communication is routed through an Internet Protocol (IP) telephony system which is capable of terminating the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device in ways that do not incur roaming charges. In some instances, such as where no other options exist, the IP telephony system might deliberately cause the telephony communication to be terminated to the mobile telephony device through a non-native mobile telephony service provider. While this would result in the user incurring roaming charges, terminating the telephony communication in this fashion may be the only way to reach the user.

In some systems and methods embodying the invention, telephony communications are effected over a packet-based data network. Signaling that is conducted in the packet-based data network is preferably executed using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). SIP is a popular communication protocol for initiating, managing and terminating media (e.g., voice, data and video) sessions across packet-based data networks that typically use the Internet Protocol (IP), of which Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is an example. The details and functionality of SIP can be found in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) Paper No. 3261 entitled, “SIP: Session Initiation Protocol” herein incorporated in its entirety by reference.

SIP establishes and negotiates a session, including the modification or termination of a session. It uses a location-independent address system feature in which called parties can be reached based on a party's name. SIP supports name mapping and redirection, allowing users to initiate and receive communications from any location. Of course, while SIP is a preferred protocol for establishing communications over a data network, other signaling protocols could also be used to perform the invention.

FIG. 1 depicts various elements that may be involved in terminating telephony communications to a mobile telephony device. The elements in FIG. 1 include a subscriber mobile telephony device 112. The subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may have a native ability to handle voice over Internet protocol telephony communications sent via a data channel. In other instances, an application running on the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may provide the capability of handling voice over Internet protocol telephony communications sent via a data channel.

Mobile telephony service provider A 114 is located in country 1 and provides telephony service to mobile telephony devices located in country 1. Mobile telephony service provider A 114 could be, for example, a cellular telephone network. For purposes of the following description, mobile telephony service provider A 114 is the native mobile telephony service provider that provides service to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

FIG. 1 also depicts a traditional publically switched telephone network (PSTN) 130. An analog telephone 132 can utilize the PSTN 130 to place and receive calls. The analog telephone 132 could call the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, and the call would be routed through the PSTN 130, then through mobile telephony service provider B 140 to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

FIG. 1 also depicts a cellular telephone 110 that is provided with service by mobile telephony service provider A 114. The cellular telephone 110 could call the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through mobile telephony service provider B 140.

FIG. 1 further depicts an IP telephony device 111 that maintains a data connection to a packet network, such as the Internet 116. The IP telephony device 111 is provided with telephony service by an IP telephony system 124 which is also connected to the Internet 116. If the user of the IP telephony device 111 wishes to establish a call with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, the IP telephony device 111 sends a call setup request to the IP telephony system 124 via the Internet 116. The IP telephony system 124 then routes the call through mobile telephony service provider B 140 to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. FIG. 1 also depicts that the IP telephony system 124 may use gateways 120A, 120B to communicate with the PSTN 130, mobile telephony service provider A 114, as well as other telephony service providers.

FIG. 1 further depicts that mobile telephony service provider B 140 is located in country 2 and provides service to mobile telephony devices located in country 2. Mobile telephony service provider B 140 could also be a cellular service provider.

Finally, FIG. 1 illustrates that the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is located in country 2, and it is capable of wirelessly accessing the Internet 116 via a wireless interface 118. This allows the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to send and receive data communications over the Internet 116. The wireless interface 118 could be a wireless router operating under the WiFi or WiMax standards, or any other type of wireless interface device that is capable of communicating with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 and the Internet 116. In other instances, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 could establish a data link to the Internet, or to some other data network, in other ways. For example, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 could communicate through a wireless Local Area Network (LAN), a Wide Area Network (WAN) gateway, a hardwired Internet connection and the like.

Although the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is capable of sending and receiving data communications through the wireless interface 118, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is also capable of establishing a data channel through a mobile telephony service provider. The data channel would be separate from a channel used for audio communications. Thus, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is capable of sending and receiving data communications via two independent pathways.

As explained above, mobile telephony service provider A 114, located in country 1, is the native service provider for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. When located in country 2, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 only has access to mobile telephony service provider B 140 to send and receive telephony communications. This results in the subscriber incurring roaming charges.

As will be described in more detail below, elements of the IP telephony system 124 are capable of terminating telephony communications to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 via a data connection passing over the Internet 116. In some instances, the IP telephony system 124 may also be capable of terminating telephony communications to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 via a data connection passing over a data channel provided by mobile telephony service provider B 140. So long as the cost of obtaining that data connection is lower than the cost of receiving a telephone call via mobile telephony service provider B 140 over a mobile voice channel, this may be a preferred way of terminating the telephony communication to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

FIG. 2 illustrates elements of a computer processor 250 that can be used as part of the system operated by the IP telephony service provider 124 to accomplish various functions. The IP telephony service provider 124 could utilize multiple processors 250 located at various locations, along with their operating components and programming, each carrying out a specific or dedicated portion of the functions performed by the IP telephony service provider 124.

The processor 250 shown in FIG. 2 may be one of any form of a general purpose computer processor used in operating an IP based communication system. The processor 250 comprises a central processing unit (CPU) 252, a memory 254, and support circuits 256 for the CPU 252. The processor 250 also includes provisions 258/260 for connecting the processor 250 to customer equipment via one or more access point, such as the packet network 116, gateways 120A, 1208 and a data channel provided by a cellular service provider, as well as possibly one or more input/output devices (not shown) for accessing the processor and/or performing ancillary or administrative functions related thereto. The provisions 258/260 are shown as separate bus structures in FIG. 2; however, they may alternately be a single bus structure without degrading or otherwise changing the intended operability of the processor 250.

Another form of processor 250 that assists in execution and is otherwise part of the subject invention is found within one or more of the mobile telephony devices. Such devices are sufficiently advanced beyond early generation cellular telephones that they contain processors capable of running operating systems developed by device manufactures, as well as third party applications that are downloaded and installed by users to performing a myriad of communications and non-communications oriented tasks.

The memory 254 is coupled to the CPU 252. The memory 254, or computer-readable medium, may be one or more of readily available memory such as random access memory (RAM), read only memory (ROM), floppy disk, hard disk, flash memory or any other form of digital storage, local or remote, and is preferably of non-volatile nature. The support circuits 256 are coupled to the CPU 252 for supporting the processor in a conventional manner. These circuits include cache, power supplies, clock circuits, input/output circuitry and subsystems, and the like.

A software routine 262, when executed by the CPU 252, causes the processor 250 to perform processes of the disclosed embodiments, and is generally stored in the memory 254. The software routine 262 may also be stored and/or executed by a second CPU (not shown) that is remotely located from the hardware being controlled by the CPU 252. Also, the software routines could also be stored remotely from the CPU. For example, the software could be resident on servers and memory devices that are located remotely from the CPU, but which are accessible to the CPU via a data network connection.

The software routine 262, when executed by the CPU 252, transforms the general purpose computer into a specific purpose computer that performs one or more functions of the IP telephony system 124. Although the processes of the disclosed embodiments may be discussed as being implemented as a software routine, some of the method steps that are disclosed therein may be performed in hardware as well as by a processor running software. As such, the embodiments may be implemented in software as executed upon a computer system, in hardware as an application specific integrated circuit or other type of hardware implementation, or a combination of software and hardware. The software routine 262 of the disclosed embodiments is capable of being executed on any computer operating system, and is capable of being performed using any CPU architecture.

The IP telephony system 124 includes a mobile roaming connection unit 300, as illustrated in FIG. 3. The mobile roaming connection unit 300 includes a registration unit 302, a triggering unit 304, a forwarding instruction unit 306 and a call termination unit 308. These elements act together to register a mobile telephony device with a mobile roaming termination service provided by the IP telephony system 124. These elements also act to determine when the service should be activated or deactivated, and to route telephony communications to registered mobile telephony devices when they are roaming out of their native service area. Whenever possible, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 terminates telephony communications to a roaming mobile telephony device in a manner that does not result in the user incurring roaming charges.

In some embodiments, any time that the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 detects the availability of a data network connection, such as through the wireless interface 118, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 contacts the mobile roaming connection unit 300 and registers with same. Once registered, the IP telephony system 124 is capable of routing telephony communications to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 via the data network connection. In some embodiments, however, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may only attempt to register with the mobile roaming connection unit if the subscriber mobile telephony device determines that it is outside of its native service area and is roaming. In still other embodiments, the subscriber mobile telephony device may attempt to register with the mobile roaming connection unit 300 when it is still within its native service area, but when the device is unable to establish a connection to its native mobile telephony service provider.

Also, in some instances, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may deliberately choose to register itself with the mobile roaming connection unit 300 when it is within its native service area, and when a cellular channel to mobile telephony service provider A 114 is available. This might allow the subscriber mobile telephony device to receive incoming calls without using up minutes of a calling plan. In this instance, the subscriber might configure his subscriber device 112 such that whenever the subscriber device 112 detects the availability of a data network connection, such as a wireless router 118 connected to the Internet 116, use of the system and methods described above are automatically initiated.

The registration unit 302 will act to register individual mobile telephony devices with the mobile roaming termination service. Typically a subscriber will already have an existing account with the IP telephony system 124. However, in some instances, a subscriber could register for the mobile roaming termination service as its only service from the IP telephony system 124.

FIG. 4 illustrates steps of a method of registering a mobile telephony device with the mobile roaming termination service. As illustrated in FIG. 4, in step S402, the registration unit 302 obtains the native telephone number associated with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. This native telephone number may have been assigned by mobile telephony service provider A 114, or by some other mobile telephony service provider. The registration unit 300 then creates a new entry in a registration database for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 that includes the native telephone number.

In step S404, the registration unit 302 obtains an identifier associated with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 from mobile telephony service provider A 114. In one embodiment of the invention, the identifier is an international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number. The IMSI number is a unique identifier associated with all GSM and UMTS network mobile telephone users and conforms to the ITU E.212 numbering standard.

The IMSI number is actually associated with the SIM card present in the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, and it would be contained in a home location register that is maintained by mobile telephony service provider A 114. The IMSI number is often required to be used in certain communications with a mobile telephony service provider when the mobile service provider is being asked to take certain actions with respect to a mobile telephony device. In step S406, the registration unit 302 stores the IMSI number in the record established for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in the registration database.

Once the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 has been registered, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 will have the information it requires to cause telephony communications directed to the regular native telephone number associated with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to be re-directed to the IP telephony system 124. This is accomplished by instructing mobile telephony service provider A 114 to forward calls directed to the native telephone number associated with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to a new access number that is maintained by the IP telephony system 124. Once call forwarding instructions have been implemented, all calls placed to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 will instead be received by the IP telephony system 124. In some embodiments, this would be accomplished using the RTP and SIP protocols. The IP telephony system 124 can then terminate the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in a fashion that will not incur roaming charges.

FIG. 5 illustrates steps of a method that would be performed by the mobile roaming connection unit 300 to cause the implementation of call forwarding instructions. The method starts in step S502 when the triggering unit 304 of the mobile roaming connection unit 300 decides that forwarding instructions should be issued. The triggering unit 304 determines that it is appropriate to implement call forwarding instructions in response to a variety of different conditions, as will be described in more detail below.

In step S504, the forwarding instruction unit 306 assigns a forwarding access telephone number. The forwarding access telephone number is stored in a registration database maintained by the IP telephony system 124 against the native telephone number and IMSI number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. Once the forwarding access number has been assigned, in step S506 the forwarding instruction unit 306 issues call forwarding instructions to mobile telephony service provider A 114 to cause mobile telephony service provider A 114 to forward all calls made to the native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to the assigned forwarding access number. Typically, the IMSI number for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 must be used in the communications with mobile telephony service provider A 114 to cause the implementation of the call forwarding instructions.

The forwarding access telephone number is controlled by the IP telephony system 124. Once the call forwarding instructions have been implemented, any calls made to the native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 are received by the IP telephony system 124. Also, when the IP telephony system 124 receives a call directed to a forwarding access telephone number, the IP telephony system 124 consults the registration database to determine which subscriber mobile telephony device is associated with that forwarding access telephone number. In this fashion, the IP telephony system 124 knows which mobile telephony device the caller is trying to reach.

The subscriber mobile telephony device 112 registers itself with the mobile roaming connection unit 300 via communications that pass over a data network. Those communications could be sent to the mobile roaming connection unit 300 over the Internet, via a wireless interface 118. Those communications could also pass over a data channel of a cellular connection. Regardless, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 would contact the mobile roaming connection unit 300 and provide information, such as an IP address and a port number, that allows the mobile roaming connection unit 300 to contact the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 and establish a voice over Internet protocol link with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. This information would also be stored in the registration database against the other information being maintained for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

Once call forwarding instructions have been issued, and once the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 has registered with the mobile roaming connection unit 300, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 can route incoming calls to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through a data network. The mobile roaming connection unit 300 establishes a VOIP call with the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, and that call is then connected to the inbound call forwarded from mobile telephony service provider A 114.

Because the incoming call is routed through the data network, rather than through non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, no roaming charges will be incurred by the user. The user may have to pay to obtain access to the data network. But in many instances, the cost of accessing the data network will be lower than the cost of roaming charges that would otherwise be incurred. For example, if the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 uses a wireless access point, such as a WiFi router, to obtain access to the data network, the charges for such access would likely be far lower than the cost of roaming charges. Even when the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 uses a cellular data channel to obtain access to a data network, the user would likely incur lower charges for data access than the cost of typical roaming charges.

When the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 registers with the mobile roaming connection unit 300, this event may trigger the forwarding instruction unit 306 to issue call forwarding instructions to mobile telephony service provider A 114. However, a variety of other triggering events might also cause the forwarding instruction unit 306 to issue call forwarding instructions. Also, the triggering events that cause the implementation or cancellation of call forwarding instructions could be customized for an individual user or for an individual subscriber mobile telephony device.

FIG. 6 illustrates steps of a method that results in call forwarding instructions being issued. The method starts in step S602 when the triggering unit 304 of the mobile roaming connection unit 300 obtains information about the location of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. This could be accomplished by having the triggering unit 304 interrogate the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to obtain location information. Alternatively, an application running on the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may periodically report the position of the device to the triggering unit 304.

In step S604, the triggering unit 304 compares the location of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to the known native service area of the device to determine if the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 has roamed out of its native service area. If the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is roaming, then in step S606, the triggering unit issues forwarding instructions to mobile telephony service provider A 114 to have calls placed to the native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 forwarded to a forwarding access number, as described above. A similar process would be used to cancel call forwarding instructions when the triggering unit 304 determines that the subscriber mobile telephony device has returned to its native service area.

In alternate embodiments, the triggering unit 304 of the mobile roaming connection unit 300 may monitor the movements of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 over an extended period of time. If an analysis of the movements of the subscriber mobile telephony device indicate that the device travels outside its native service area according to a regular pattern, such as every Monday morning, and/or that the device travels back into its native service area according to a regular pattern, such as every Friday evening, then this pattern information may be used to trigger the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions. Rather than waiting for the actual location of the subscriber mobile telephony device to be obtained or reported, forwarding instructions may be automatically implemented and canceled based on the predicted movements of the device.

In the methods discussed above, the forwarding instruction unit 306 acts to automatically implement and cancel call forwarding instructions based on the occurrence of an event, or based on a prediction. Likewise, an application running on the subscriber mobile telephony device may itself automatically cause the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions if the application detects that the device has moved out of or back into the user's native calling area. The application may also automatically cause the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions when the application detects that the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 does not have a cellular connection to its native mobile telephony service provider A 114. Similarly, the application may automatically cause the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions when the application detects that a data network connection is available.

Also, the user might take direct actions to cause the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions. For example, an application running on the subscriber mobile telephony device may provide a user with the ability to manually cause the implementation and cancellation of call forwarding instructions.

When an application running on the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is causing the implementation of call forwarding instructions, the application may be directly communicating with the mobile telephony service provider, or the application may communicate with the mobile roaming connection unit 300 to request that it cause the implementation or cancellation of call forwarding instructions. If the application is directly interacting with the mobile telephony service provider, the application may contact the mobile roaming connection unit 300 via a data network connection to obtain a forwarding access number. Such communications would also inform the mobile roaming connection unit 300 that calls received on the forwarding access number should be terminated to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

In another embodiment of the invention, all incoming telephony communications are forwarded to the IP telephony system 124 at all times. This would require that a dedicated forwarding access number be assigned to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, and call forwarding instructions would always be active. Each time that a call is received on the forwarding access number, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 checks the connection status of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 to determine what type of access the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 has. The call is then terminated to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in the most appropriate manner. This could mean sending the call through a cellular service provider in a normal manner, or setting up a VOIP telephone link via a data network. If more than one connection method is possible, preference rules would determine how the call is connected.

If there is no such access, the incoming telephony communication could be sent to voicemail, or to some type of interactive voice response system. Alternatively, the incoming telephony communication could be forwarded to another subscriber device or telephone number.

FIG. 7 illustrates steps of a control method embodying the invention which terminates incoming telephony communications to a subscriber mobile telephony device 112 via the most appropriate path. This method would be executed by the mobile roaming connection unit 300 of an IP telephony system 124 after call forwarding instructions have been implemented. For purposes of the following explanation, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is located in country 2 (see FIG. 1), and the subscriber mobile telephony device is capable of receiving incoming telephony communications from mobile telephony service provider B 140.

The method begins in step S702 when an incoming telephony communication is received on a forwarding access number that has been assigned for the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. In step S704, the call termination unit 308 of the mobile roaming connection unit 300 checks to determine if the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is registered and reachable via a data network connection. If the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is registered, in step S706 the call termination unit 308 checks to determine the quality of the data connection. If the data connection is capable of supporting a VOIP call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, then in step S708 a VOIP call is established between the IP telephony system 124 and the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 over the data network. The received telephony communication is then terminated to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through the VOIP call.

If the quality of the data network connection to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is not sufficient, then in step S710 a check is made to determine if the user has authorized calls to be terminated to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. This will likely result in roaming charges. However, the user may choose to accept the roaming charges if there is no other way of receiving an incoming telephony communication. In this scenario, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 first checks to see if it is possible to terminate the call through alternate means. But if no other means are available, the call is ultimately terminated through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, after call forwarding has been canceled.

The result of the decision reached in step S710 could be conditioned on various things. For instance, the user may have instructed that all calls be terminated through non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140 if no other method of terminating the call exists. In other instances, the user might specify that calls should only be terminated through a non-native telephony service provider if the call will cost less than a threshold amount to complete. In still other instances, the user might specify that only calls originating from a particular set of telephone numbers should be completed through a non-native mobile telephony service provider. This would allow the user to specify that certain important people be put through, but that other calls are not.

If the decision in step S710 is that the call should not be terminated through a non-native mobile telephony service provider, then in step S718 the call is terminated in some other fashion. As discussed above, this could include sending the call to voicemail, playing a recording to the caller that the called party is unavailable, forwarding the call to an alternate telephone number, or terminating the call in some other fashion.

If the decision in step S710 is to terminate the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, in step S712 the forwarding instruction unit 306 contacts mobile telephony service provider A 114 and cancels the call forwarding instructions. The call termination unit 308 then sends the call to the regular native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in step S714. This will cause mobile telephony service provider A 114 to send the call on to mobile telephony service provider B 140, which ultimately completes the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

Because the call is being routed through the IP telephony system 124, the mobile roaming connection unit 300 is able to monitor the status of the call. Once the call is completed, the method proceeds to step S716, where the call forwarding instructions are re-implemented. This ensures that further calls directed to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 will be forwarded to the IP telephony system 124.

If the check made in step S704 indicated that the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is not registered with the mobile roaming connection unit 300, then in step S720 a check is made to determine if it is acceptable to terminate the communication through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. If the system determines that the call should not be terminated through non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, then in step S728 the call would be terminated in some other fashion.

If the decision in step S720 is to terminate the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 through a non-native mobile telephony service provider, then in step S722 the forwarding instruction unit 306 contacts mobile telephony service provider A 114 and cancels the call forwarding instructions. The call termination unit 308 then sends the call to the regular native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in step S724. This will cause mobile telephony service provider A 114 to send the call on to mobile telephony service provider B 140, which ultimately completes the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. Once the call is completed, the method proceeds to step S726, where the call forwarding instructions are re-implemented.

FIG. 8 illustrates steps of another method embodying the invention. This method results in a telephony communication being terminated to a subscriber mobile telephony device 112 that is roaming. The call is completed through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. However, the call is completed in a fashion that will not result in roaming charges.

When a mobile telephony device is located outside of its native calling area, the device will communicate with a non-native mobile telephony service provider. During an initial communication process, the non-native mobile telephony service provider will recognize that the mobile telephony device is a non-native device. As a result, the non-native mobile telephony service provider will assign a temporary local access telephone number the device. The temporary number is often known as a mobile subscriber roaming number (MSRN). The non-native mobile telephony service provider then communicates with the user's native mobile telephony service provider and informs the native mobile telephony service provider of the assigned local access telephone number. This can be accomplished using a MAP Update Location Message.

The native mobile telephony service provider stores the temporary local access telephone number in a home location register that it maintains. The native mobile telephony service provider can obtain the temporary local access telephone number using a MAP Provide Roaming Number message. Whenever a call comes in for the subscriber's mobile telephony device, the native mobile telephony service provider forwards the call to the temporary local access telephone number. This will route the call to the non-native mobile telephony service provider, which then completes the call to the subscriber's mobile telephony device.

Because the local access number assigned to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 by the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140 is stored in the home location register of the native mobile telephony service provider A 114, this information may be available to the IP telephony system 124. For purposes of the following explanation, the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is roaming in country 2, and mobile telephony service provider B 140 has assigned a local access number to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. The mobile roaming connection unit 300 has obtained the local access number from the native mobile telephony service provider 114. Finally, forwarding instructions for the subscriber mobile telephony device have been implemented.

The method begins in step S802, when an incoming telephony communication directed to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is received by the IP telephony system 124. In step S804 a check is performed to determine if the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 is registered with the mobile roaming connection unit 300 and available over a data connection. If so, then in step S806 the call is completed to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 over the data connection.

If the subscriber mobile telephony device is not available over a data connection, the method proceeds to step S810, where a check is performed to determine if the mobile roaming connection unit 300 has the local access number assigned by the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. If the local access number is available, in step S812 the mobile roaming connection unit 300 routes the call over a data network to a gateway located in country 2. The gateway in country 2 then contacts and hands the call off to the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. The non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140 then completes the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112.

The IP telephony system 124 already has multiple agreements in place with mobile telephony service providers in multiple countries. Those agreements allow the IP telephony system 124 to route calls over a data network to gateways located in various countries. Those gateways can then hand calls off to the mobile telephony service providers in those countries.

By routing the call over the data network until the call arrives in the desired country, and by having the non-native mobile telephony service provider then complete the call from a local gateway to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112, the call can be completed for a considerably lower cost than if the call was handled in a traditional manner, and roaming charges were incurred. The user would likely have to pay a small charge to terminate the call in this fashion. But the charge would be less than the cost of the roaming charges.

Returning now to FIG. 8, if the local access number is not available, in step S814 a check is made to determine if it is acceptable to terminate the communication in the traditional manner through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140. If the system determines that the call should not be terminated through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, then in step S822 the call would be terminated in some other fashion.

If the decision in step S814 is to terminate the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in the traditional manner through the non-native mobile telephony service provider B 140, then in step S816 the forwarding instruction unit 306 contacts mobile telephony service provider A 114 and cancels the call forwarding instructions. The call termination unit 308 then sends the call to the regular native telephone number of the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 in step S818. This will cause mobile telephony service provider A 114 to send the call on to mobile telephony service provider B 140, which ultimately completes the call to the subscriber mobile telephony device 112. Once the call is completed, the method proceeds to step S820, where the call forwarding instructions are re-implemented.

As an additional feature of the call termination processes presented above, an enhanced security option is made available. That is, once a communication request is passed to the IP telephony system 124, call signaling and media connections between the IP telephony system 124 and the subscriber mobile telephony device 112 may be encrypted to provide a secure communication session. The encryption techniques that are used could be RSA encryption, as described in PKCS#1 v2.1: RSA Cryptography Standard, RSA Laboratories, dated June 14, 2002, or AES encryption as described in Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 197, dated November 26, 2001, or the techniques described in Secure Socket Layer (now Transport Layer Security) Protocol, Version 1.2 as described in IETF RFC 5246, dated August 2008, all of which are incorporated herein by reference.

In the methods described above, a call forwarding number is assigned by the mobile roaming connection unit 300 when call forwarding instructions are being implemented. This would likely result in different forwarding access telephone numbers being used for the same device at different times. However, in other embodiments, the forwarding access telephone number could be a dedicated telephone number that is used only for a particular mobile telephony device.

While foregoing is directed to embodiments of the present invention, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof.

Claims (30)

The invention claimed is:
1. A method of terminating a telephony communication to a mobile telephony device, the mobile telephony device being assigned a native telephone number and being associated with a native mobile telephony service provider, the method comprising:
receiving location information from the mobile telephony device that is indicative of the present location of mobile telephony device;
determining whether to implement roaming termination procedures based on the received location information;
causing, based on the result of the determining step, the native mobile telephony service provider to implement call forwarding instructions that result in incoming telephony communications directed to the native telephone number being directed to a forwarding access number assigned to the mobile telephony device;
receiving an incoming telephony communication directed to the forwarding access number; and
terminating the incoming telephony communication based on predetermined instructions associated with the mobile telephony device.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the determining step comprises receiving an instruction to implement roaming termination procedures from an application running on the mobile telephony device.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the determining step comprises:
determining whether the mobile telephony device is outside of its native service area based on the received location information; and
determining that roaming termination procedures should be implemented if the mobile telephony device is determined to be outside of its native service area.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein the step of receiving location information comprises receiving location information from an application running on the mobile telephony device.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the causing step comprises:
assigning a forwarding access number for the mobile telephony device; and
causing the mobile telephony service provider to forward incoming telephony communications directed to the native telephone number to the assigned forwarding access number.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the causing step comprises using an International Mobile Subscriber Identity number associated with the mobile telephony device to communicate with the mobile telephony service provider.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein the terminating step comprises terminating the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via a data channel.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein the data channel is a data channel provided by a mobile telephony service provider.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein the terminating step comprises:
determining a quality of a data connection between the mobile telephony device and the mobile roaming termination service; and
terminating the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via the data connection if the quality of the data connection is greater than a predetermined threshold value.
10. The method of claim 9, wherein if the quality of the data connection between the mobile telephony device and the mobile roaming termination service is lower than the threshold value, the telephony communication is terminated to the mobile telephony device via a non-native mobile telephony service provider.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein the terminating step comprises:
determining if the mobile telephony device is registered with a mobile roaming termination service via a data channel; and
terminating the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via a non-native mobile telephony service provider if the mobile telephony device is not registered with the mobile termination service via a data channel.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the terminating step comprises:
causing the native mobile telephony service provider to cancel the call forwarding instructions; and
forwarding the telephony communication to the native telephone number associated with the mobile telephony device.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising checking to determine if the incoming telephony communication should be terminated to the mobile telephony device through a non-native mobile telephony service provider, and wherein the causing and forwarding steps recited in claim 12 are only performed if the result of the checking step is positive.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the checking step comprises determining if a cost to terminate the telephony communication through a non-native mobile telephony service provider is less than a threshold cost.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein the checking step comprises determining if an identity of a party initiating the telephony communication is contained within a predetermined list.
16. The method of claim 12, further comprising causing the native mobile telephony service provider to re-implement call forwarding instructions once the telephony communication has been completed.
17. The method of claim 1, wherein the terminating step comprises:
obtaining a local access number that has been assigned to the mobile telephony device by a non-native mobile telephony service provider; and
terminating the telephony communication to the local access number.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein the obtaining step comprises obtaining the local access number from a home location register maintained by the native mobile telephony service provider.
19. The method of claim 17, wherein the terminating step comprises terminating the telephony communication to the local access number via a data connection to a telephony services gateway that communicates directly with the non-native telephony service provider that assigned the local assess number.
20. A system for terminating a telephony communication to a mobile telephony device, the mobile telephony device being assigned a native telephone number and being associated with a native mobile telephony service provider, comprising:
means for receiving location information from the mobile telephony device that is indicative of the present location of mobile telephony device;
means for determining whether to implement roaming termination procedures based on the received location information;
means for causing, based on the result of the determining step, the native mobile telephony service provider to implement call forwarding instructions that result in incoming telephony communications directed to the native telephone number being directed to a forwarding access number assigned to the mobile telephony device;
means for receiving an incoming telephony communication directed to the forwarding access number; and
means for terminating the incoming telephony communication based on predetermined instructions associated with the mobile telephony device.
21. A system for terminating a telephony communication to a mobile telephony device, the mobile telephony device being assigned a native telephone number and being associated with a native mobile telephony service provider, comprising:
a triggering unit that receives location information from the mobile telephony device that is indicative of the present location of mobile telephony device, wherein the triggering unit determines whether to implement roaming termination procedures based on the received location information;
a forwarding instruction unit that causes the native mobile telephony service provider to implement call forwarding instructions that result in incoming telephony communications directed to the native telephone number being directed to a forwarding access number assigned to the mobile telephony device;
a receiving unit that receives an incoming telephony communication directed to the forwarding access number; and
a call termination unit that terminates the incoming telephony communication based on predetermined instructions associated with the mobile telephony device.
22. The system of claim 21, wherein the triggering unit receives an instruction to implement roaming termination procedures from an application running on the mobile telephony device.
23. The system of claim 21, wherein the triggering unit determines that roaming termination procedures should be implemented if the mobile telephony device is outside of its native service area.
24. The system of claim 21, wherein the forwarding instruction unit assigns a forwarding access number for the mobile telephony device, and wherein the forwarding instruction unit causes the mobile telephony service provider to forward incoming telephony communications directed to the native telephone number to the assigned forwarding access number.
25. The system of claim 21, wherein the call termination unit determines a quality of a data connection to the mobile telephony device, and wherein the call termination unit terminates the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via the data connection if the quality of the data connection is greater than a predetermined threshold value.
26. The system of claim 25, wherein the call termination unit terminates the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via a non-native mobile telephony service provider if the quality of the data connection to the mobile telephony device is lower than the threshold value.
27. The system of claim 26, wherein the call termination unit terminates the telephony communication to the mobile telephony device via a non-native mobile telephony service provider by causing the native mobile telephony service provider to cancel the call forwarding instructions, and then forwarding the telephony communication to the native telephone number associated with the mobile telephony device.
28. The system of claim 21, wherein the call termination unit obtains a local access number that has been assigned to the mobile telephony device by a non-native mobile telephony service provider, and wherein the call termination unit terminates the telephony communication to the local access number.
29. The system of claim 28, wherein the call termination unit terminates the telephony communication to the local access number via a data connection to a telephony services gateway that communicates directly with the non-native telephony service provider that assigned the local assess number.
30. The system of claim 21, wherein the triggering unit receives the location information from an application running on the mobile telephony device.
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US13334849 US8600364B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2011-12-22 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13492361 US8744422B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-06-08 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13562542 US8989721B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-07-31 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13568416 US9020477B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-08-07 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13569384 US8862109B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-08-08 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices via a non-native telephony service provider
US13597396 US9020478B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-08-29 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13597916 US8693994B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-08-29 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13597485 US9002335B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-08-29 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13649847 US8958785B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-10-11 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13669009 US8934882B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-11-05 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13668826 US9491600B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-11-05 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13671162 US9002336B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-11-07 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13671006 US8571060B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-11-07 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
US13673043 US8855612B2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-11-09 Systems and methods of terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices
EP20120812490 EP2865207A2 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-12-21 Methods, apparatuses and computer readable media for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices making use of a mobile roaming termination service
PCT/US2012/071248 WO2013096768A3 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-12-21 Methods, apparatuses and computer readable media for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices making use of a mobile roaming termination service
CA 2873603 CA2873603A1 (en) 2011-12-22 2012-12-21 Systems and methods for terminating telephony communications to mobile telephony devices

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